COVID-19 and the Imperatives of Forging Research, Policy, and Practice Interface at the Grassroots Level -- Promises, Challenges, and Agenda for Action
Like many other infectious diseases in the past, COVID-19 has once again revealed health disparities in the United States and across the world, highlighting the urgency to forge effective partnerships between researchers, policy makers and community organizations. Using grounded theory and in-depth interviews, this research explores the promises and challenges that exist in the communicative interface between health researchers/practitioners, policy makers and community organizations in the state of Texas and Bexar County in particular. The goal of this research was to suggest pathways to building a sustainable communication infrastructure that strategically addresses health disparities in the city of San Antonio and beyond. The study's findings indicate the importance of early involvement in planning, the importance of quality relationships (following characteristics identified through the organization-public relationship theory), the importance of sharing knowledge with all stakeholders, and appreciating the structural barriers that exist leading to compounded trauma. These findings work together to illustrate how challenging yet imperative it is to establish and maintain strategic partnerships during and prior to any health crisis for an effective and enduring community response.